The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Archive for March, 2011

Liquid Experiments

I’ve been threatening to do these liquid experiments for weeks, so I thought it best to get it out of my system. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I did some test shoots and took a lot of pictures. This kind of work is like photographing fireworks without a script of the show. It takes a lot of trial and error and you never know exactly what’s going to happen. My first shots were of the food coloring shortly after it entered into the water. The drop would spread out like a chandelier as it sank towards the bottom. Then, I’d add another drop.

I tried letting it sit for a while to blend a bit and adding a drop or two of another color. The green looks like a flower.

As you can probably see, it’s not exactly sharp. Food coloring blends with the water and lacks distinct edges. I focused as much as I could, but eventually I had to think of a way to use this to my advantage. Patiently waiting to see what the food coloring did when allowed to sit in a still glass of water produced some interesting results. It fanned out into long, swirling trails. I even had some luck mixing two shades of purple. The indistinct edges could work well for backgrounds.

Using one of my shots as a background.

 

I continued my experiments varying color combination and water motion. At first, I filled the glass from the faucet and let it sit awhile before adding dye. Later, I discovered stirring the water gave an interesting effect.

Adding dye to a freshly filled glass of water was another variation. As you can see, I flipped the shot above and the shot below for artistic effect.

I know this is unorthodox photography, but it provided me with some images I can use for backgrounds and other elements in Photoshop work. Not to mention being a fun experiment and keeping myself and one of my cats very amused.

Next Week: Box and Folding Cameras

I’m going back to something more traditional next week: old cameras. This time, very old cameras, say 70 or more years old for some. Hopefully I can find the old Kodak folding camera.


Looking Back and Looking Forward

I was going to do log monsters this week, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it. Recently, I’ve been backing up my photographs and watching the world outside my window slowly change and come alive with Spring. At the change of every season, I find myself looking forward to what will come, but also looking back with just as much anticipation. Back because the smells and images of last year and the many years before are deeply ingrained in my mind. Here’s some spring from my archives.

These tulips, hazy and glowing as my impressions of spring at home, were photographed last year not so far from my dorm room at school. Being a busy senior, I rarely had time to stop and smell the flowers. It’s not the same emotional attachment I have for my own plants back home, but they were flowers. They were shadows the ones at home. And today I saw our tulips pushing through the ground.

Something I won’t see this spring are the flowering trees I became accustomed to during my college years in the South. They seemed too charming for an institutional campus. Sticks suddenly bushed up into bright ornaments showering us with little blossoms. It’s only now that I begin to miss them.

One odd thing about the plants at college: most plants I found familiar were hidden away in the far reaches of campus. Roses, classic and beautiful flowers, were far behind dorms and other buildings.

Looking back farther, I remember the last time I was at home with my plants. Soon I will smell the lilac again, soon I will feel the grape hyacinth, and soon I will see (and photograph) the iris. I am so impatient. But it’s never to early to start weeding, so maybe that will keep me busy in the meantime.

  

Next Week: Liquid Experiments or Old Camera

Man, what having your wisdom teeth out will do to your blog! I thought I’d get over this faster. Anyway, a new week, a new challenge. I’m still curious about what food coloring dropping into water would look like, so I’m going to do some experiments along that line. If it doesn’t work out, I’m thinking box camera or perhaps something more interesting. We’ll see what Dad lets me borrow. For midweek updates, follow me on Twitter!  http://twitter.com/#!/MyCameraFriend


Early Spring

After months of waiting in the snow, Spring is finally coming over us. Though the leaves are not yet on the trees, I started to think about going for a long walk with my camera. Seriously thinking about it that is, it’s been in my mind all winter. Just yesterday, I mentioned my thoughts to my father, who as fate would have it, also wanted to go out. I loaded up my DSLR and tripod, and he loaded up his 4″X5″ and tripod. There we were, hauling our gear around a forest preserve practicing two very different styles of photography. I shot what interested me while he patiently hiked around the park looking for one thing to shoot that day (he only had two sheets of film left.) It was a great day to be out. The small stream in the forest was thawed and running with melt off.

Throughout the forest, we saw evidence of tree trimming along the path and what looked like some sort of controlled burn. Must be maintenance time for the trails.

Eventually, we ended up back where we started. I was drawn to an old dead tree covered in lichen. It had a combination of shape and texture I had to check out.

Dad was drawn to a still-standing old oak tree he’d spotted when we first arrived. Eventually, I came over to see what was going on in his photographic genius mind and practice being an assistant. Watching him, I couldn’t help but think I should revisit his kind of photography. The discipline and precision of old-fashioned 4″x5″ view camera photography mandates careful thought, an exercise I could use to keep me from getting lazy. I’d have to scan it for the blog, but it may be worth it.

Next Week: The Log Monsters

Due to my unusual schedule this week, I’m going to do a part two of sorts for next week. While out in the woods, I found some logs that looked like unfriendly animals. Since the log monsters wouldn’t really go with the tone of this post, I decided to save them for next week. I know, I was just talking about being lazy, but trust me, there are extenuating circumstances.


Photographic Heritage: My Father’s Nikon F

Last week, I thought about photographing my first camera, but I decided an old classic would be a better choice. Photographing my father’s Nikon F, the first good SLR he ever owned, with my modern Nikon DSLR was a special experience. It tied together all the big happy camera/photoness in the house. This particular Nikon F is 45 years old and is still dearly beloved by my father. It was the best of its kind back in the day, and it is now a classic camera. Naturally, my dad made me promise I’d be extra careful with it.

The Nikon F.

 

Detail of lens and prism.

 

Markings

 

To all the Canon people out there, I’m not waging Holy War. I have dear friends who are Canon people. It’s just a little nostalgic Nikon person stuff. I’ll be less controversial next week.

Next Week: Time Outdoors, or Crazy Experiments Indoors

Speaking of next week, I’m thinking of braving the apparent bleakness of March in the faith that there’s something good out there. If not, I’ve heard dropping different liquids into each other is pretty amazing.